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P3 Authority confirms 2 new projects in pipeline

Puerto Rico’s P3 Authority unveiled two new projects that are in the evaluation phase, involving the island’s Treasury Department and government-run regional airports.

During a presentation to the media, P3 Authority Executive Director Fermín Fontanés said the Treasury Department is seeking to modernize and optimize the agency’s collection processes, taxpayer services and its call center. The second proposal calls for the concession of the nine regional airports on the island.

The public-private partnership project being considered for Treasury seeks to provide the agency with more robust procedures and capacities in collections, taxpayer orientation and service channels, Fontanés said.

“In addition, the agency is looking to increase collections and generate efficiencies and savings. The boosting collections will have a special emphasis on delinquent accounts and difficult-to-collect segments, among other functions,” he said.

In line with the P3 Act, the project would fulfill the public interest for several reasons: it would allow the modernization of the Treasury Department’s processes and capacities in an accelerated way; it would strengthen education for taxpayers and Treasury staff; it would “consistently and permanently” increase the agency’s collections, which in turn would benefit Puerto Rico’s fiscal condition; and it would improve the provision of services by the Government to citizens.

Meanwhile, the concession project for the island’s nine regional airports, located in Aguadilla, Arecibo, Ceiba, Culebra, Humacao, Mayagüez, Ponce and San Juan (Isla Grande), seeks to increase their operational and maintenance efficiency, and the shoring up revenue for the regional airport network to optimize its use and commercial performance.

As part of the project evaluation process, the alternative and feasibility of grouping the airports by region is being analyzed to grant more than one public-private partnership agreement, he said.

“This P3 agreement represents an opportunity for economic growth through different regions in Puerto Rico. By maximizing the particular attributes of each airport, and by increasing air traffic and activities related to the operations and services they provide, the objective of having a favorable impact on the regions where they are located would be achieved,” Fontanés said.

“For the P3 Authority, it’s essential to continue identifying opportunities for transformation that translate into benefits for citizens and for Puerto Rico. The public-private partnership mechanism is an effective and proven one,” Fontanés said.

“Not only does it have a positive impact on the provision of public goods and services to citizens, but it also has favorable implications for the development, construction and maintenance of the island’s infrastructure,” he said.

In 2020, the agency moved ahead on two agreements, one to the transformation of Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority’s transmission and distribution system through a 15-year contract with LUMA Energy. The project is in the transition phase, which is expected to culminate in June 2021, he said.

The other public-private partnership already underway is between Maritime Transport Authority and HMS Ferries, a 23-year agreement to improve ferry service connecting Puerto Rico with Vieques and Culebra and San Juan with Cataño.

“In recent days, certain clauses of the contract were fulfilled that gave way to the transition period, which is projected to last three years. However, HMS Ferries has expressed its goal of being able to operate all routes in its first year of operations in Puerto Rico,” Fontanés explained.

The first route that HMS Ferries will operate will be the Cataño route, and then take the Ceiba-Culebra route and, finally, the Ceiba-Vieques route.

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This story was written by our staff based on a press release.

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